Moving to London with his wife and dogs. Mobile Developer History


    My name is Cyril, I'm an Android developer. Now I'm used to the fact that I live and work in London, but a year ago I could not imagine such a thing. In this article I will tell you how I got a chance to get a job in an international company, what was asked for an interview, what stages you need to go through in order to go to the UK with your family and dogs, and which one is London.

    Before the move, I lived in Moscow and worked on one educational project. Once I read somewhere that a London company is conducting interviews in Moscow with the possibility of moving to London. Unfortunately, I found out about it literally a few days after the interviews passed. But then it turned out that there will be another session after some time. And I thought: “Why not?”, Because the event takes only one day, and at the end you already know the result.

    I did not plan to move to another country, but for the sake of an interesting project and perspective I decided to try working with cool engineers.

    As you have probably guessed from the name of the hub in which I write, it was the company Badoo. I knew her before, mainly because of speeches at conferences and articles inblog on Habré . Besides, my friend was already working there.

    The mobile team (about 50 people) is located in London, in the headquarters. The company offered:

    1. Complete the online test (qualifying stage).
    2. Come to the Moscow office for an interview and get acquainted with the team and lead.
    3. Get (or not) an offer to London.

    Offer to successful candidates was made the same day.

    What was in the qualifying test

    There were several questions with the choice of the answer option on the Android theme and two programming tasks. I came across something rather simple, like a variation on a binary search and something to use a stack. As I understand it, this stage of the interview is needed to weed out people who have never written code and have not dealt with Android. It is not necessary to get an absolute result for the test, it's okay if there is an error somewhere.

    Time to complete the task was limited to two hours. For me it was a plus, since I didn’t have time to do voluminous test tasks, and it was easy to spend a maximum of two hours on solving the problems and passing the test.

    I passed the test, and the next day I wrote to HR asking to call. On the phone, I was asked questions about previous experiences. Since the company is international and the working language is English, it was necessary to answer on it. At that time, my level was Intermediate (and my practice was limited to communication with hotel staff on vacation), but this was enough to go through the telephone phase.

    Job interview sunday

    The next day after the telephone stage, I received an invitation to the full-time part in the Moscow office of the company. It was more convenient for me to spend one day off than to go for interviews on weekdays, as this did not distract from current projects. Those who are not from Moscow, paid for the tickets.

    Badoo's Moscow office The

    interview consisted of three stages: an interview for knowing Android / Java, for checking the ability to write code, and for knowing system design.

    The first stage - questions on Java and Android. Some of them were basic, verifying that the candidate had an affair with Android. Some were very simple, for example, about what components exist on Android, and some about how Android is built inside, how the system renders the view, how the garbage collector works, etc. Of course, a practicing engineer can easily cope with such questions. They also asked about the pros and cons of some approaches in Android: they offered to speculate and weigh the pros and cons. The first stage lasted no more than 30 minutes.

    The second stage is coding interview, questions plus task. I started it with a short talk about the basics of programming (algorithms, data structures) and continued writing the code on the board. There was a simple task that showed how a candidate writes code: what names of variables he chooses, how he is going to test the code, how he takes into account extreme cases. After writing the solution, the task was modified and complicated. The passage of the second stage took 60 minutes.

    The third stage is an interview on the topic of system design. For me it turned out to be the most interesting part. They asked how to design a system from scratch. After the answer the following complicating condition was given, and so for an hour. As a result, in 60 minutes I managed to design quite a lot. As I understand it, the main idea here is that the system should be scalable so that it would not have to be rewritten each time new requirements are added.

    The fastest offer in my life

    During the event, the office had delicious food and a cool merch as a souvenir. While waiting for the next stage and in the evening, after the end of the interview, we communicated in the kitchen with the team. The guys talked a lot about the projects and the company, how it works, how they live in London, etc. I remember how they gave advice on choosing an apartment in London, explained what you need to pay attention to. It was rather curious to talk with the “live” team and personally ask future colleagues about this. It became more or less clear what kind of people and what kind of culture.

    In the kitchen at the Moscow office of Badoo

    An hour after the end of the third stage, I received an offer and went home at seven in the evening. Honestly, I doubted. I rarely change my place of residence and, moreover, have never lived abroad. Somehow everything quickly and unexpectedly happened, and it was necessary to make a decision. I decided to get some sleep first. And the next day, my family and I discussed everything again, weighed the pros and cons, and realized that we wanted to try.

    Moving to London

    Visa and English exam

    View of London from a height

    The first stage of the move - the preparation of a visa. In order to get it, you need to do a fluorography in a specific hospital (the requirement of the embassy) and pass the IELTS English exam. All costs are borne by the company. If there is time until the next exam date, you can work out with an English teacher at the Badoo Moscow office for free.

    Usually, the entire process from the intention to obtain a visa to, in fact, its receipt takes three months. For this period, the company offers to work in an office in Moscow. I agreed. And for good reason, since in my case the visa was ready only after six months. First, the spouse changed her last name (it took about two months), and then the company renewed its sponsorship certificate. During this time, I became acquainted with the team, project and processes. In addition, my wife and I went to all kinds of family and corporate parties such as the New Year, so the stress in the first days after the move was much less than I expected.

    The company makes a Tier 2 visa for an employee and a Tier 2 Dependent spouse. According to the latter one can work practically everywhere (with the exception of professions that require special qualifications, for example, a doctor). You can even do business. Tier 2 “ties” you to the current employer, and in case of transfer to another company, the visa will have to be redone.

    To pass the English exam you need four points out of nine. The exam is quite simple, for example, you can find examples of speaking at the passing point: 4 points , 5 points . Most likely, if you managed to successfully pass the interview stages in English, then there will be no problems with IELTS.

    Apartment Search

    Badoo London office

    I moved to London with my wife and two dogs (Doberman Tyler and Toy Terrier Rica). First we arrived without dogs and found an apartment, registered with the police, received a BRP ( Biometric Residence Permit) card.), which allows you to enter the country (if you leave without receiving it, you cannot return). The search for an apartment in London was fast enough: after the call for the ad, I agreed to watch the same or the next day. But here I seem to be lucky, because I know a lot of stories when the search for housing turned out to be the quest. At the time of the conclusion of the contract you need to pay the rent for the first month, a deposit (usually required for six weeks of residence) and an agency commission. Accommodation in London is much more expensive than in Moscow. More or less accurate price comparison can be found here .

    In most houses in London there is no central heating - they are heated either by individual gas or electric. If you live in an apartment without gas, then you need to build additional costs for heating in winter. Therefore, I chose an apartment with individual gas heating and double glazed windows.

    Our view from the apartment window

    Together with the offer, the company offers a relocation package - money, in addition to salary, which can be spent on the move. I had enough for the flight, transportation of dogs and the purchase of furniture and household appliances in the apartment.

    Moving dogs

    Rika and Tyler  

    To be transported to the UK, animals must be microchipped and vaccinated. We did the chipping long before thinking about moving, because the chip allows you to find a dog in case of loss: you can scan it in the veterinary clinic and find the name and phone number of the owner by number.

    There are several options for transporting dogs: by car through France or by direct flight Moscow – London. The first is cheaper and less exciting, but you need to travel all over Europe and spend a lot of time on the road. So we chose the second one.

    You can only transport animals from Moscow by Aeroflot. Regardless of the size of the animal, they fly to London only in the cargo hold. We gave the animals at two in the morning in Sheremetyevo, and at 17:00 we were brought them home. We were worried about them; after all, they had to spend 15 hours where it was not clear where, but fortunately, everything went well. The dogs were healthy and glad to have a new home, on arrival at Heathrow they were fed and taken for a walk by the workers of the transport company. Who cares, here is a detailed story of my colleague. True, he was transporting cats, but the principle is the same.

    Rika and Tyler

    Everyone loves dogs

    For dogs, there is a special relationship. I often heard that the British love dogs. Perhaps this is true, but I noticed a rather strange manifestation of love: everyone wants to pet your dog and do it without permission! Tyler was shocked by such attention.

    In London, there are many parks in which you can walk with dogs, but we have not found a single platform with shells (stairs, barriers), although there are quite a lot of them in Moscow, even in sleeping areas.

    Medicines for dogs here are much more expensive than in Russia, but you can't just buy them. To buy a flea / tick remedy, you need to go to a veterinary clinic for a paid admission, get a prescription and only after that buy medicine. It is impossible without a prescription (in Moscow such drugs are sold freely in pet shops).

    Medical insurance for dogs works in such a way that the owner pays a fixed amount (for example, 200 pounds), and everything that is above it is covered by insurance, but not more than 80% and only if the dog did not have the disease before insurance . The size of the monthly payment depends on many factors, but the average is 50 pounds per dog. Insurance, of course, is optional, but if something happens, then in its absence, you must be willing to pay a few thousand pounds. For example, a reception in a vet clinic and a pill for the stomach cost us 100 pounds.

    Taxes and Insurance

    Moving to the UK, you should know that there is a progressive tax system, and the whole amount is paid by the employee. The tax payment procedure is quite complicated compared to the Russian one, so at first I used this calculator .
    If there is a desire, you can deduct a certain percentage of wages to the pension fund (this happens before tax is paid, and then the money can be transferred to another country in the event of a move). In addition, if you choose to deduct 3%, the company will pay an additional 6% - and 9% will go to your future pension.

    To the tax, you can still add 100-150 pounds (at the current rate, it is about 9000-13 thousand rubles) per month for private health insurance, although there is free medicine. The difference, roughly speaking, is that under insurance there is access to cool private clinics, where you will be served coffee and assigned an individual guide, and you will not have to wait for several weeks to get to a specialist. Some refuse private insurance. In Badoo, the company pays insurance to employees, and family members can be purchased separately. There is a caveat: although insurance is paid by the employer, the non-taxable base will be reduced by its cost.

    London through the eyes of a developer (mine)

    What Big Ben looks like now

    From school textbooks in English, many probably know about London weather (which suddenly turned out to be better than in Moscow), famous green parks - oases in the center of the megalopolis, centuries-old traditions, the queen and her entire large family. Therefore, I will share those observations that are very different from the usual situation for me. Some may surprise and even shock someone unpleasantly, but without them my story about London would have turned out to be somewhat “refined”.  


    London is an expensive city, it is well known. Products in stores are on average one and a half times more expensive than in Moscow. In regular stores, of course, the products we are used to in Russia are not sold, for example, buckwheat and boiled sausage. But in almost every district there are Polish and sometimes Russian shops where you can find familiar products.
    But the prices for clothes in chain stores (h & m, zara, bershka) are about the same and sometimes lower than in Russia.

    IT community

    My colleagues at the Badoo mitap on iOS development

    In London, there are many interesting mitap and hackathons for developers. Perhaps they are fewer than in Moscow, but quite enough. From time to time I try myself as a speaker; the company helps with this: runs and feedback from the team, individual consultations with the coach, payment for participation in conferences, roads and accommodation.


    Lunch on the veranda of the Badoo office in London.
    Photo: Dmitry Po

    London is a city of visitors, so you don’t have to worry about your accent, but it’s quite difficult to understand people from Ireland, for example. People do not mind repeating what has been said if you ask them. I think that multinationality is generally the main feature of London.

    If you compare London with other European cities, then English for me personally is a great plus of London. For work and life, there is no need to learn another language (for example, German, Czech or French).


    London Underground
    Photo: Ivan Grekov Wint95r

    London has the oldest underground in the world (it has existed since 1863), so you can find many design errors in it. It is stuffy in the cars and at the stations, and the trains themselves are narrower than in the Moscow metro. It happens that metro workers organize strikes and one of the branches does not fully work, but, as I know, then alternative routes are created. And in general, malfunctions of the metro are reported in advance. By the way, there has never been a strike on the branch where I live. And also, if a lot of snow suddenly falls in winter, the metro also closes.

    People in the subway, as well as on the street, you can meet different. Often you can watch passengers eating some soup in the subway. Imagine what flavors are hovering around. And some jump up on seats with legs, they have to wash their pants often. :)

    To drive a car to the center of London, you need to be rich enough. Entrance to the center is paid, parking is there too. This makes the city favorable for pedestrians, but at the same time makes it possible to get to work by public transport or by bicycle. There is a lot more money on the road than in Moscow, even with a 30% discount, which is given to all passengers up to 25 years old: about 120 pounds a month go out.

    On the other hand, traveling around England is more convenient and cheaper by car or even by bicycle ( hereMy colleague told in detail about the bike trip). Nearby there are so many interesting places worth visiting. Take at least Lake District (Lake District), Scotland, Stonehenge.

    Park in Windsor
    Photo: Vadim Istratov

    London pubs

    If in Russia people tend to drink alcohol at home, in London the culture of street drinking is widespread. Yes, you can drink alcohol on the street here, so every day crowds of people gather near the pubs who drink and communicate very, very loudly.


    Fox eats at the National Gallery
    Photo: Gleb Deikalo freebin

    London has many foxes. They have a useful function - they hunt rats and mice, but they also like to rummage in the garbage. You can meet the fox in the evening almost everywhere, I once saw right near Big Ben. At night, foxes can barking heart-rending.


    In London, separate waste collection is used. In different areas, the degree of sorting is different, but everywhere there is a division of at least two types: that which is subject to processing, and everything else. There are no usual places for garbage dumps - there are neat containers next to each house, from where garbage is taken out once a week. In the center, due to the abundance of various establishments, a lot of garbage accumulates, and every evening it is put out into the street right in the bags.

    Water taps

    Another feature of the British capital is the separate taps for hot and cold water - in some homes they are still running. The implication is that you need to use them like this: you plug the drain with a cork, you draw water, you wash your face with water. It may be normal to do it at home, but such constructions are also found in the toilets of many bars (there are usually no traffic jams, and hardly anyone will use them).

    What i do now

    Our team building - a tour of the " Game of Thrones " in Ireland

    I am currently developing an application for Me. During my time at Badoo, I had various tasks: developing video streaming, modulating the application, creating various features with custom views and animations. Also, weekly, in our Android-team, mini-conferences are held (lasting about an hour), for which developers prepare reports on various technologies. This broadens the mind, and also makes it possible to present any technology (I'm not talking about the powerful practice of language). If you manage to convince the team, you can embed it in the project. Thus, by the way, Kotlin, DI-framework, MVICore were introduced.

    The work tasks turned out to be interesting, and even London, despite its disadvantages, turned out to be quite a living city. Of course, this is not all that you can tell about the life of a newcomer here, but I still hope that the story turned out to be interesting. Write in the comments if you want to learn something else. I will answer.

    November 24 and 25 will be the same hiring event, through which I once passed. My London colleagues from iOS and Android teams will come to communicate with the candidates. A new test can already be followed by a link . Good luck!

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